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  1. 2012 Apr 09

    The OFFICIAL Husker Locker Podcast (3/31/12) - Spring Shells and Shorts Edition


    By HuskerLocker

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    Explore the Archives

    On the docket:

    A podcast featuring questions and topics submitted by you, fans of the Big Red:

    - The importance of spring football
    - Offensive and defensive MVP predictions
    - Curious recruiting numbers
    - Battles for prospects
    - Aaron Green's effectiveness

    Have a topic or question that you'd like to hear discussed? Send us an e-mail or shoot us a tweet.

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    More info on the Husker Locker intro voice: Rob Kugler's Profile

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    Tags: recruiting, aaron green, spring practice, podcast, podcasts

  2. 2012 Mar 25

    Knee-Jerk Reactions (3/25/2012)


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - Tim Miles passed the first press conference test with flying colors.

    - Unless you’re hated with a passion coming in, you always pass the first press conference test with flying colors.

    - He has the right mindset, now let’s see if he can coach with the big boys.

    - Enjoyed chatting with CBS’ Gregg Doyel about the future of Nebrasketball.

    - Dropping the first B1G baseball game to Illinois seemed appropriate considering football’s loss to Wisconsin. Nice rebound on Saturday, though.

    - Hoping PJ Smith gets the opportunity to show what he can do at safety. He’s not the most cerebral guy, but he makes up for it in athleticism.

    - The Capital One Bowl wasn’t good for much, but if it drives Brett Maher to be even better in 2012, doesn’t that make it closer to a wash?

    - Pelini’s guys have lofty goals, and that’s respectable, but their words don’t seem like those of guys who’ve been told about a process repeatedly.

    - They talk too much about their destination rather than the journey, at least for now.

    - Looking forward to see what Ameer Abdullah and Aaron Green can do during the Spring Game.

    - Agree with Brian that Green should redshirt unless needed, but likely won’t.

    - For your KJR wrap up:

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    Tags: tim miles, baseball, pj smith, brett maher, ameer abdullah, aaron green

  3. 2012 Mar 09

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Mucho Hooch-O - Who's at Second...Behind Rex?


    By HuskerLocker

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    The fifteenth edition of Mucho Hooch-O, an audio blog by Husker Locker's own Greg "Hooch" Mehochko examines one of the biggest questions that may not be answered until the fall. Who's Nebraska's No. 2 running back?

    Topics on the docket:

    - Redshirt remorse
    - How will Mike Marrow affect the race?
    - The hybrid that is Imani Cross
    - The Husker backfield's favorite superheroes

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Follow Greg a.k.a. Hooch on Twitter: @thehooch36
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    Tags: rex burkhead, ameer abdullah, braylon heard, aaron green, mike marrow, imani cross

  4. 2012 Mar 07

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Spring Practice Position Primer


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    Quarterback: Without Tommy Armstrong in camp, Martinez has no threat to his starting spot. He’s showed tremendous athletic potential last spring.

    If Carnes continues to improve athletically, and the mental aspect of the game can be reinforced, while the gap between he and Martinez isn’t likely to shrink that much, a legitimate backup candidate could be crowned.

    Running back: Ameer Abdullah and Aaron Green start on equal footing heading into Saturday and could very well end up where they started following April’s spring game.

    Thanks to Abdullah’s edge in experience during actual FBS play, one has to think he has a leg up on Green. His fumbling problems may level the playing field, however.

    Wide receiver: Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa, Tim Marlowe and Jamal Turner will all have the opportunity to solidify their starting roles.

    With the departure of Khiry Cooper, look for Taariq Allen, who followed wide receivers coach Rich Fisher from Weston, Massachusetts, to vie for the fifth spot. KC Hyland and Tyler Evans are two other talents with an opportunity to shine.

    Tight End: Ben Cotton and Kyler Reed aren’t going anywhere, but David Sutton and Eddie Ridder have the opportunity to showcase their potential.

    Offensive Line: Departed center Mike Caputo’s replacement could come from a number of candidates including Cole Pensick, Nick Ash and Ryan Klachko. Pensick and Ash may have seniority, but Klachko sticks out as the prospect with a higher ceiling.

    Brandon Thompson, Andrew Rodriguez, Mike Moudy and Ryne Reeves look to be the favorites to hold down the guard spots. Rodriguez’s attitude has reportedly been lackadaisical, but Moudy and Reeves have the tenacity to step up should he slack off.

    Sirles and Qvale will start out spring at the tackle spots with Tyler Moore giving them all they can handle in an attempt to take one of their spots. Zach Sterup is a likely backup candidate with Givens Price needing a strong spring to assert himself as a legitimate threat for playing time.

    Defensive Line: Cameron Meredith, Jason Ankrah, Eric Martin and Joseph Cater have the end positions on lockdown barring injury. Donovan Vestal and Walker Ashburn need huge springs to hold off the incoming Avery Moss and Greg McMullen come the fall.

    The interior’s been decimated by injury with Chase Rome and Todd Peat, Jr. now out for the entirety of spring ball. Once Kevin Williams and Thad Randle return from injury, they’ll be plugged in next to Baker Steinkuhler in an attempt to hone their abilities, and find a suitable replacement for Rome’s spring absence.

    Having a deeper interior for rotation’s sake won’t hurt heading into Big Ten play. Jay Guy and newly-placed Tobi Okuyemi will have the opportunity to show that their work ethic has improved.

    Linebackers: Will Compton has the MIKE slot on lockdown while Sean Fisher will spend most of his time trying to cement the BUCK slot by the end of spring. Max Pirman could find himself trying to work into rotation behind him.

    Pelini mentioned to look for David Santos and Alonzo Whaley to work at the WILL position to begin the essentially-impossible task of taking over for Lavonte David. Don’t be surprised to see Santos win that battle by mid-April.

    Defensive back: Mohammed Seisay will be one of the most-watched players on the entire team this spring. Not only will he be wearing the departed David’s No. 4, but he looks to lock down the title of Nebraska’s elite cornerback.

    Andrew Green, Cinate Evans, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and recently-switched Braylon Heard will likely get the opportunity to lock down the opposite end.

    Safety: Daimion Stafford, Courtney Osborne and P.J. Smith are the likely candidates to lock down starting role. Osborne’s recent concussion issues may cause Pelini and company to take things slow with him.

    Kicker/Punter: Brett Maher is light years ahead of Mauro Bondi, but it’ll be interesting to see if the Boca Raton native can narrow the gap in the slightest.

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    Tags: spring practice, taylor martinez, brion carnes, ameer abdullah, aaron green, kenny bell, quincy enunwa, tim marlowe, jamal turner, taariq allen, ben cotton, kyler reed, cole pensick, nick ash, ryan klachko, brandon thompson, andrew rodriguez, mike moudy, ryne reeves, cameron meredith, eric martin, chase rome, todd peat, baker steinkuhler, will compton, david santos, mohammed seisay, brett maher

  5. 2012 Mar 07

    Husker Heartbeat (3/07/12): Abdullah and Green's Future, Pelini says No to Yes and Williams Released


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Ameer Abdullah and Aaron Green will be getting plenty of opportunities to hone their skills to help Burkhead in 2012

    - Bo Pelini isn't interested in being surrounded by "yes men"

    - Taylor Martinez is looking forward to taking the next step in his collegiate career

    - Nebraska's anxious to see if Big Red bonding pays off

    - The Kansas City Chiefs release former Husker Demorrio Williams

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: ameer abdullah, aaron green, bo pelini, taylor martinez, demorrio williams

  6. 2011 Nov 19

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Michigan Game Day Thoughts


    By HuskerLocker

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    The Husker Locker staff will be presented a number of questions addressing various aspects of each week's game all season long.

    This week:

    How do you contain Denard Robinson?

    Brian: Right now, the easiest thing to do is load up the box and dare Denard to throw. Last week, there were reports that Robinson couldn’t even throw a 10-yard ball after the game. With several injuries and the growing talk about moving Robinson to a wide receiver spot during this coming spring, look for Robinson to make the most of what he can do while he can do it.

    That being said, Brady Hoke hasn’t really given his quarterback the chance to do much. Robinson is not an I Formation/Pro Set quarterback. He's the spread/zone read master that many thought he would be. You can’t take him, tweak a few things, and get Ball State's Nate Davis circa 2007 overnight.

    Erin: That's an excellent question. I'm not positive that our defense can stop a mobile quarterback. If we're going to, we need to put a lot of pressure on Robinson. Forcing him to throw would be the best case scenario.

    Greg: Make him one-dimensional. Make him try to beat you through the air. Don't over-rush him. We've seen a few times this season, particularly earlier on, where defensive linemen flew past the quarterback. It's imperative that they keep Robinson in front of them.

    James: You can never really full contain him, as he has too many moves. Brady Hoke is probably the biggest containment effect on him, he's drilled it into Denard to pass first, and not run until he's through his progression.

    This gives you a window to harass him, so blitzing and sending your fastest defenders after him before the passing play breaks down is key. "Nard-dog" as my Michigan friends call him, is prone to throwing bad passes, especially in the red zone, so that pressure is key.

    To contain him in the running game will require the efforts of linebacker Lavonte David. The downside of doing this, is that Nebraska leaves star Michigan running back Fitz Toussaint open. He's gashed defenses for 420 yards in his last four games. Pick your poison, as they say.

    Brandon: Thankfully, Brady Hoke seems to have done a solid job of doing that for Michigan’s opponents. Regardless, when Shoelace decides to tuck it and run, he’s even faster than Taylor Martinez and shiftier. He’s buckled under pressure this year and while the interior defensive tackles have had a rough go, Cam Meredith has been money on the outside.

    A four or occasional five-man rush to frazzle Robinson and force his hand (almost literally) will be essential. Shoelace is dangerous, but he’s dinged up, can’t pass well and won’t like several upset Blackshirts in his face. Keep a spy back just in case the big boys whiff and you’ve got a winning combination.

    If you’re Tim Beck, how do you attack the Michigan defense?

    Brian: Michigan is decent on the line, but horrendous in the back seven. It's fair to say they're almost as bad, if not worse, than Nebraska was early in the season. The perfect plays are inside counters and edge plays that seemed to work well against Penn State.

    Teams have kept bringing safeties up to help defend the option. If this happens, Tim Beck can, and should, be able to call some successful line option playaction passes. Kyler Reed and Kenny Bell, if totally healthy, should be able to exploit Michigan's safeties. Look for a lot of Tim Marlowe. That jet sweep action where Rex plays quarterback has prepared a number of plays.

    Erin: A balanced offensive attack. That's absolutely crucial.

    Greg: With balance. Not just with play calling, but with the personnel used. Utilize the stable of talented, young running backs and spread the ball around to the great guys at wide receiver. There's so much talent. Don't waste it with predictable play calls.

    James: You attack the middle of their secondary. Michigan has some solid defensive talent that is finally playing well together. While the individual units work well together, they seem to have issues as an entire 11 which causes breakdowns to occur. I'm looking for some of our Milk Carton players like Kyler Reed to finally make their presence known. Whatever happened to that Jamal Turner kid?

    Brandon: The outsides of the Wolverines’ defense are weak, but the back seven has bigger holes. Nebraska may employ the services of faster players that haven’t seen much action lately (Aaron Green, Jamal Turner, etc.) to tire out the Michigan linemen and pull the secondary up. Beck has something invaluable and that’s the threat of Martinez and Burkhead.

    If you’re Michigan, you have to respect Martinez’s feet and force him to throw. The problem is that he’s hitting mid-range passes better than ever. On option plays, opponents finally have to commit and not key in on Taylor like last year or Burkhead earlier this season. Use that extra second of hesitation to launch some bombs downfield to Kyler Reed, Quincy Enunwa or Kenny Bell. In summary: Get the Wolverines tired, then go for the gusto.

    Do you see Nebraska being affected by The Big House?

    Brian: In a way, yes. Michigan Stadium, even with all the additions, is still one big place, and roughly 80 percent of the stadium is underground. That can create a noise factor for the Wolverines. However, as we have all seen, the crowd can be easily taken out of the game from time to time.

    It’s not like Memorial Stadium where the stands can seem right on top of you. If you can get a little bit of that EA Sports-style momentum on your side, things can go your way pretty easily.

    Erin: Not really. I mean, it will be impressive, sure. But I feel like this team doesn't get phased by the crowd too much. Plus, we've seen this time and time again that Martinez loves a visiting crowd. I'll be interested to see how he handles the Big House.

    Greg: After the first quarter, Nebraska should be used to playing in front of the massive and hostile bunch. They need to get that early lead and take the crowd out of it.

    James: No. The Big House is consistently talked about by fans of the Big Ten as being one of the quieter stadiums in the nation. It's more of a country club atmosphere, and the design of the stadium allows a lot of the noise to escape. If Nebraska can survive Happy Valley and Camp Randall, the Big House shouldn't be that big of a deal.

    You get the feeling Michigan fans, knowing the division is out of reach, are already looking forward to their battle against the hated Buckeyes. Combine that with an 11 A.M. kickoff and I'm not expecting noise to be a critical factor.

    Brandon: No, and that seems really weird for a place that packs in over 110,000 people, doesn’t it? The problem with Michigan Stadium is that while the tradition and grandeur is there, the place is built for watching a football game, not intimidating the opponents. Unless they have severe Agoraphobia, that is.

    Sound escapes due to how The Big House is built. It’s a cool place to play football, but it also makes a nice backdrop for the hometown photographers of the opposition.

    How is your confidence level in this team at this point in the season?

    Brian: Same as it ever was and leaning towards Nebraska winning this game. As many of you know, the bigger the game, the greater the chance the Huskers come out flat. Last week was a very emotional week, both with the buildup to the game plus the actions before and during it.

    There hasn’t been as much buzz leading up to this game as we first thought there would be back in July/August. However, the winner still has an inside track to a BCS at-large game. That's huge considering where these two programs have been over the last few years.

    Let's not forget last year when Nebraska went into College Station with the same possibility of a BCS berth, only to lay a dud on the road, though. Granted, these are not Big 12 officials on Dan Beebe’s watch, however the performance of that game has to be avoided.

    Nebraska can inflict their will on a Michigan team that is very similar in every aspect of the game. When two teams like this are so evenly matched, intangibles come into play. The Huskers have been pretty good when it comes to penalties and holding onto any fumbles this year. In order to win this game, that must continue.

    Erin: It's pretty high. I think we've seen a lot of really positive things from this group and I have a lot of faith that they can win out. I think when all the working pieces come together, they are difficult to stop. It just really depends on how they want to play.

    Greg: I know some are uncomfortable with a two-loss season. It hurts to lose games, and it pisses you off to lose games you're supposed to win. I'm still confident. I know we are dependant on a Michigan State loss to make it to Indianapolis, but hey, no one expected Iowa State to beat Oklahoma State. That's why you play the game.

    James: It'd be higher if we weren't so injury decimated. We have 2-3 offensive guards who are usable, an issue at defensive tackle, a third defensive back who was a wide receiver, questions at nickel/safety, no linebackers behind our top two, a star running back who has had way too many carries, and our best blocking tight end is out.

    On the offensive side, it's frustrating we haven't developed more talent behind Rex Burkhead, but the defense's current state is a result of the the 2008 and 2009 recruiting effort made by this staff. If Nebraska can stop Michigan's running game, I feel pretty good about this weekend.

    I think that's a tall order given the weapons the Wolverines have in Robinson, backup quarterback Devin Gardner and Toussaint. That said, Iowa's lack of a mobile quarterback makes me feel very good about our chances to send the seniors out as winners at home on Black Friday.

    Brandon: It’s pretty high, actually. Take that as a good sign from a guy who might as well be from Missouri with his “show me” attitude. I like Beck Ball and I’ve been impressed with what Pelini has done with a defense that’s cobbled together at this point. My main concerns are Rex’s legs, the wide receivers’ mitts, extra defensive backs and the safeties.

    Against Michigan, I’d like to see Rex stay as close as he can to 15-20 carries if at all possible. Coach Fisher has an abundance of young talent on his hands, but they’ve got to bring those balls in before they turn on the jets.

    Finally, Dennard’s playing at an NFL level and Andrew Green appears to have solidified the spot opposite. If Robinson was a better passer, I’d be concerned about Thorell, Blatchford, Cassidy, etc. He doesn’t seem to be able to hit the broad side of the Big House right now, though.

    The elements are there for an impressive victory, but I’m sure Nebraska fans would settle with scoreboard and more ammo for the “Real 1997 National Champions” argument.

    Follow the panel on Twitter:

    Brandon: @eightlaces
    Brian: @btbowling
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    Greg: @thehooch36
    James: @jamesstevenson

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    Tags: michigan, jamal turner, aaron green, rex burkhead, taylor martinez, denard robinson

  7. 2011 Nov 14

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Top Five Things We Saw Against Penn State


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Erin Sorensen

    Fans were unsure of what to expect as last Saturday's kickoff drew nearer. At the final whistle, a 17-14 victory was more than sweet, as Nebraska handed Penn State their first conference loss of the season. It was still bitter though, as fans witnessed a program struggling to move past one of the biggest scandals in college athletics.

    1. Pressure on Matt McGloin/An Absent Rob Bolden

    Penn State often starts sophomore Rob Bolden against opponents. Bolden never saw the field as junior Matt McGloin took the reins of the Nittany Lions’ offense. However, Bolden’s lack of time under center is a mystery, as he is easily the better runner of the two.

    The logic here must have been that McGloin is a better decision-maker and would be able to handle a situation like the 17-0 deficit Penn State found itself staring at.

    Nebraska fans were told to look for the junior starting first, with Bolden coming in as a backup, a reverse from what Penn State usually does. However, enough pressure from the defense (and efficient scoring by the Husker offense) kept McGloin in the game.

    It was oddly reminiscent of Nebraska’s trip to Wisconsin, except this time, it was Penn State trying to keep up. Big passes taught McGloin a fast lesson about not throwing anywhere near Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard. Had he continued, Dennard would have had a pick or two.

    The Nebraska defense still showed weaknesses, but the improvement is there. Penn State’s refusal to remove McGloin was proof enough of that.

    2. The Ability to Adjust

    There were not a lot of adjustments to be made. However, when the Husker wide receivers were dropping passes, offensive coordinator Tim Beck started calling more plays for I-Back Rex Burkhead.

    When he wasn’t finding room to run, it was back to the air. This kept Penn State’s defense moving constantly, and it was clear the Nittany Lions were worn out by the fourth quarter.

    Once again, Beck showed that he is able of calling a crisp, near-perfect game. Improving his play-calling consistency is going to be vital for the first-year offensive coordinator. If he can find a rhythm, this offense is primed to be unstoppable.

    3. Game Management by Taylor Martinez

    Sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez is on a campaign to silence all those who have doubted him. When given a solid playbook from Beck, the Californian quarterback becomes next to unstoppable. Quick passes are clearly his strong suit. His throwing form may be bizarre, but it’s working. Why fix what’s not broke?

    It’s clear that Martinez is growing up. His leadership skills are becoming stronger with each game as are his game management skills. As the clock ticked down in the fourth quarter, Martinez made Husker fans nervous by snapping the ball with one or two seconds left.

    However, fans are seeing that this is what he intends to do, instead of the confusion of years past. Martinez is shaping into a quarterback that, while still frustrating at times, knows how to make the offense produce. For a sophomore, that’s a huge step.

    4. The Lack of Young Running Backs

    Head Coach Bo Pelini should have considered keeping a redshirt on one of his three talented true freshman backs. At this point in the season, it is clear that the young guys are not going to be making too many appearances.

    Whether it is a lack of confidence in them, or too much in Burkhead, Beck and Pelini have made up their mind as to who will see the field and who will not.

    Fans can continue to wish for use of the three young backs, but it’s doubtful this will happen. With Burkhead back at ‘Superman’ status and another 100-yard game, the workhorse will handle the remainder of the season.

    It doesn’t hurt that Burkhead and Martinez clearly get along very well. Fans should expect to see a similar game plan to Penn State’s against Michigan and Iowa, with Martinez and Burkhead running the ship.

    Ameer Abdullah, Aaron Green and Braylon Heard are just going to have to wait.

    5. Team Composure

    Bo Pelini didn’t think the game in Happy Valley should have been played in the first place. The team was surprised by the amount of security they were surrounded by. National media was camped outside of Joe Paterno’s house in State College. The day was poised to be a spectacle.

    However, Nebraska did exactly what they needed to do – Stand united. The Huskers weren’t just united with one another, but also held a friendly hand out to Penn State.

    Players from both sidelines earned a great deal of respect for one another last Saturday. For what is intended to be Nebraska’s great “cross-division rivalry,” it appears Nebraska and Penn State players, coaches, and fans look forward to playing each other perhaps more than anyone else.

    From the pre-game prayer on the 50-yard line to the shaking of hands at the end, Nebraska and Penn State showed a great deal of respect for one another. It was a proud moment for Husker fans. It showed that no amount of media frenzy would faze this group of young men.

    Overall, fans saw a game full of promise for Nebraska. It was a proud day for Husker Nation, who wanted to see nothing more that a clean, fair game.

    A note to Bo Pelini: Don’t think that the fans didn’t notice you wearing red, even when athletic director Tom Osborne told fans not too. That red jacket said a lot more than many may have noticed – It was a salute to Husker fans everywhere.

    Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
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    Tags: penn state, joe paterno, taylor martinez, rex burkhead, matt mcgloin, rob bolden, ameer abdullah, aaron green, braylon heard, tim beck, bo pelini

  8. 2011 Nov 13

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Knee-Jerk Reactions - Penn State


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - The score was near-expected. The atmosphere was exactly as expected and yes, it was surreal.

    - The mid-field prayer may be one of the highlights of the entire college football season.

    - If Taylor Martinez can learn how to draw that much attention and provide a pitch off the option like that every time, no one will complain.

    - Someone clearly changed out Rex Burkhead’s batteries. Another game, another 100 yards.

    - When Martinez and Rex switched positions, did it look like they just got curious about what the other’s day was like to you, too?

    - Due to what we’ve been told regarding receivers’ performance habits, Jamal Turner will clearly be starting against Michigan…right?

    - Kinda thinking that a redshirt should’ve been kept on Aaron Green or Braylon Heard.

    - Two offensive guards traveled and went the distance. Bravo Mr. Choi and Mr. Long.

    - That wasn’t a fumble.

    - Will Compton has taken his game up a notch and none too soon.

    - Alfonzo Dennard continues to look better every week. That guy’s gonna make some coin in The League.

    - Take a look at every FBS team around the country and thank your lucky stars for Brett Maher again.

    - An amazing press conference by Bo Pelini. As Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples said, it’s required viewing.

    - Bowl Prediction of the Week: Outback Bowl vs. Georgia.

    Follow Brandon on Twitter: @eightlaces
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    Tags: penn state, taylor martinez, rex burkhead, jamal turner, aaron green, braylon heard, spencer long, seung hoon choi, will compton, alfonzo dennard, brett maher, bo pelini, andy staples, outback bowl, georgia

  9. 2011 Nov 12

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Top Five Things to Watch For Against Penn State


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Erin Sorensen

    It’s hard to believe that the scandal at Penn State broke only one week ago today. With the firing of longtime head coach Joe Paterno, Penn State’s football program has been in a state of severe disarray.

    Discussions of forfeiting today's game cropped up. As game day grew closer, it was apparent that the show must go on. Nebraska walks into a situation this morning that no team has experienced before. What will the Cornhuskers need to be prepared for?

    1. Pressure on Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden

    For the second week in a row, Nebraska faces a dual quarterback rotation featuring junior Matt McGloin and sophomore Rob Bolden.

    Penn State has made a living off of starting Bolden first with McGloin coming in later. However, Husker fans should be looking for the upperclassman to start against Nebraska today. Why the switch-up?

    The Nittany Lions' best decision-maker when passing is McGloin. While running is not his strong suit, he can pick apart a team’s secondary. With Nebraska’s defensive backs struggling, this presents an opportunity for the Nittany Lions to get ahead early. Don’t expect to see Bolden on the sidelines too much, though.

    With Nebraska’s inability to stop the run against Northwestern, Penn State likely will have an opportunity to run through some big holes. The front seven Blackshirts are going to have to play lights-out to guarantee Bolden goes nowhere.

    Husker fans should expect to see a much tougher defense against Penn State, though. If the defense plays to the level that they did against Michigan State, Nebraska fans should know this: That was Bo Pelini’s defense, not Carl’s.

    Depending on today’s plays, it will be quickly apparent who was in charge the last week. For the sake of this game, the Nebraska faithful better hope it’s Bo.

    2. The Ability to Adjust

    Offensive coordinator Tim Beck is a stubborn man. He’s said as much. When a play isn’t working, Beck has a tendency to call the play again hoping for a different result.

    In some cases, he works with a limited playbook as he did against Northwestern. By the end of the first half, I-Back Rex Burkhead had far more carries than he should have, yet the offense kept running similar plays.

    Beck needs to be able to adjust against Penn State. If running the ball isn’t working, it’s time to let Martinez throw quick passes to Brandon Kinnie. If the fast strikes stop working, go back to the ground game.

    The ability to adjust will be a key factor yet again. It’s been a rollercoaster ride with Beck so far. It is time he starts to level things out.

    3. Taylor Martinez’s Game Management

    Martinez played one of the best games of his career against Northwestern, if not the absolute best. Unfortunately, a poor defensive showing and a loss overshadowed it.

    The positive is that he silenced many critics one pass after another. Proving he could keep a level head, Martinez made a campaign for a comeback. Had the defense held up their end of the deal, the sophomore quarterback could have pulled it off, too.

    Against Penn State, Martinez needs to mirror his game management skills from the Northwestern game. Staying stable and keeping a level head against a defense that will be gunning for him yet again is vital.

    He needs to be a leader once more and is poised to be just that. If he can block out the pressure of this game, Martinez can build on his successes against Northwestern.

    4. The Use of Young Running Backs

    Hopefully Rex Burkhead got a lot of rest over the last week, because he will be carrying a big load over the next two away games.

    With both Penn State and Michigan to face, Burkhead’s strength, speed, and leadership will all be tested. However, it is not crucial to run him ragged. Beck should take advantage of his three young running backs at times.

    All three are capable of making big plays and a few extra rotations will not kill the offense. In fact, a little extra resting time for Burkhead might give him the ability to produce bigger numbers.

    While Superman will never say he’s tired, Beck needs to understand he can’t run his workhorse to death. Nebraska has the depth. Using it would not be a bad idea.

    5. Team Composure

    It has been nothing short of an interesting week for Nebraska. As Penn State’s world crumbled, Husker players and coaches have tried to tune everything out.

    While Pelini was quick to say his team was not going to focus on the issues at State College at all, it would be ludicrous to believe the team has absolutely no idea what they’re walking into. It is clear from their Twitter statuses alone that they know.

    Security is heightened and Tom Osborne has asked fans not to wear red. The environment will be surreal, to say the least. This is a time for Nebraska to stand together as a team like no other. When kickoff comes, we will watch as a group of young men attempt to battle intense media frenzy by playing football.

    The outcome of this game will be a telling one as Nebraska needs to win to keeps its chances at a Big Ten Championship alive. A loss would practically guarantee that a trip to Indianapolis will not happen.

    The Huskers need to find it within themselves to win a game in front of many who are not necessarily watching for the right reasons.

    Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
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    Tags: penn state, joe paterno, matt mcgloin, robert bolden, tim beck, bo pelini, carl pelini, taylor martinez, rex burkhead, ameer abdullah, aaron green, braylon heard, brandon kinnie, tom osborne

  10. 2011 Nov 12

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Penn State Game Day Thoughts


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    The Husker Locker staff will be presented a number of questions addressing various aspects of each week's game all season long.

    This week:

    Do you think Tim Beck will open the playbook up more against Penn State?

    Brian: I could tell say yes and, “Man, we could be looking for Jamal Turner's breakout day, and Aaron Green and Ameer and Braylon and yeah!”

    However, every time that it seems inevitable for this to happen, this offense goes into a shell and plays more conservative than necessary. Again, I could say that it will happen, but until I see it, I won't believe it.

    Erin: I really hope so. The game plan against Northwestern was very disappointing. Whatever Tim Beck does, his playbook needs to resemble what he used against Washington and Michigan State. No stubbornness today, either.

    No. I think Bo and Tim will end up keeping the gameplan conservative. Penn State doesn't have elite talent, and Nebraska should be able to defend them similarly to how they defended Michigan State.

    This will starve the Nittany Lions of points, and Nebraska will look for opportunities to strike. The biggest thing Bo doesn't want the offense to do is make a mistake that will give the Penn State free points.

    As the game progresses, you'll see the playbook open up as Beck understands the scheme, and as Nebraska tries to take control in the second half. This will be Michigan State Part Deux.

    Ryan: No, I think the play-calling will stay conservative. With what is sure to be a rowdy, deafening crowd, the Huskers will keep it mostly the ground and call a pass play here and there to mix it up. I imagine a grind-it-out game in which the Huskers bleed the clock and the Nittany Lions in the process.

    Brandon: I doubt it. That’s unfortunate, too, because while Penn State hasn’t played the most difficult schedule, they are stopping teams from putting up points.

    While the Nittany Lions have the No. 3 scoring defense is likely a by-product of their softer schedule, it’s still a big indicator of what they can do against a team that’s not firing on all cylinders.

    Perhaps what’s most concerning is that if Nebraska doesn’t utilize more formations that have proven effective in the past, specifically the Diamond, I don’t think they win this game.

    PSU limits their opposition to less than 112 yards per game on the ground and 170 through the air. Perhaps more importantly, they’ve picked off 14 passes this season and are ranked No. 3 in pass efficiency defense.

    Beck needs to keep with the short/intermediate passing game with Taylor and spread out Penn State’s defenders or it’s going to likely be a long day.

    We saw the defense take a conservative approach, risking Northwestern’s wide receivers getting space against the Blackshirt defensive backs which obviously worked. How do you feel the defense should shift for Penn State’s attack?

    Brian: Penn State can run very well which is helpful as the defensive line, as mangled up as it seems to be, is much more serviceable than a secondary that has been torched time and time again. Even if the Lincoln Journal Star tells me that they have been solid.

    Ciante Evans and Lance Thorell could be better. Let's hope they play out of their minds, because to beat Penn State, you have to dare Matt McGloin and Robert Bolden to throw on you.

    Erin: Today's defense will be Bo's again. It will be similar to what we saw against Michigan State, you can count on that. The defense doesn't need to shift, as much as the coaching does.

    There is talent on that side of the ball and we've seen it. With proper guidance, they should be able to contain Penn State.

    James: Nebraska will play it's typical cover 2 scheme. They will stay conservative, block the deep routes, and not allow the receivers to beat them.

    You'll see more of the four-standing-defensive-linemen look that we used against Michigan State, and you'll also see the offensive line attacking the quarterback.

    Expect David/Compton to be the run support guys. Nebraska should be able to keep Penn State from executing long drives for scores.

    Ryan: The defense needs to tighten up in the middle as Northwestern gashed Nebraska between the tackles and Penn State will attempt the same thing.

    A strong middle presence with eight or nine guys in the box is the appropriate shift as Penn State does not do well through the air and will rely on Silas Redd to pound the rock.

    Brandon: Penn State’s offense isn’t anything to write home about, but it can be effective against a defense in disarray.

    Running back Silas Redd is averaging over 111 yards per game, so if Lavonte David and Daimion Stafford can’t help support the run defense, that’s going to be an area of major concern.

    Honestly, a better approach may be to sell out to stop Redd and focus on forcing PSU’s quarterbacks to make mistakes. Matt McGloin is no Dan Persa, only competing passes at a 55 percent clip.

    He can make throws if he isn’t facing pressure, and if the secondary can’t keep wide receiver Derick Moye under wraps, that spells trouble.

    The good news is that McGloin is about as mobile as Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins. If Baker Steinkuhler can mirror his performance from last week while Cameron Meredith and Eric Martin are released off the edge, Nebraska’s got a good chance to fluster PSU’s signal-callers.

    Do you feel that the Nittany Lions will be distracted by the massive scandal?

    Brian: Oh...maybe? They will be distracted, but at the same time they will be galvanized to play well for Paterno and themselves.

    The game can go one of two ways very early: Either Nebraska jumps on top of them and puts them into a submission move or Penn State gets the momentum and rides it for 3-plus hours as State College forgets about what has been and will be happening.

    Erin: Yes, I do. Everyone keeps making these comments about how they will be more fired up, which I could not disagree with more. I can only imagine how our team, let alone entire state, would be feeling if something like this happened to us.

    Penn State will be shaken. It's not a big shock. These are young men who are trying desperately to brave a major storm they had nothing to do with. You can't tell me for a second it won't affect them.

    James: They can't help but be distracted, but as we've seen earlier this season with Mike Stoops' termination at Arizona, sometimes the team can rally and "win one for the gipper."

    This is an 8-1 team, at home on senior day, wanting to win for their coach and move within a game of securing their berth in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game. I think Penn State comes to play, and wins in spite of the scandal.

    Ryan: Absolutely, but not in the way some think. They will band together and use an "us vs. the world" mentality in this game. I think the scandal may improve their performance on the field.

    Brandon: I can’t see how they won’t be. At the same time, it’s Senior Day and these guys love Joe Paterno. They want to go out and win one for him if nothing else. Whether this will affect them negatively or not is the big question mark.

    This scenario appears to be black and white. Either Penn State rallies behind the JoePa banner and overwhelms Nebraska or the Huskers get to McGloin/Bolden early, stuff Redd and the Nittany Lion balloon deflates.

    At this point, Rex Burkhead has to be hurting averaging around 25 carries per game over the past four games. Will this finally be the game where he can get some rest?

    Brian: Refer to the first question for what I think about this. We have ponies in the stable that are begging to be released, yet for some reason Tim Beck and Bo Pelini think that a Rex Burkhead at 60 to 75 percent at best is better then a 100 percent Ameer Abdullah, Braylon Heard, or Aaron Green.

    If we refuse to use these young guys, it’s a wasted season for at least Aaron and Braylon who could've used redshirts. Ameer has been used well on kick returns, but Aaron and Braylon seem lost in the shuffle.

    Erin: Sorry, but Rex's resting week was against Northwestern. We made a mistake playing him too much. He will be too valuable against Penn State and Michigan.

    Here's hoping he healed up over the last week because we'll need him. Can the three freshman rotate in too? Sure, they can. Rex will still carry the heaviest load.

    James: If it wasn't apparent last week, Bo and/or Beck don't trust the three-headed freshman I-Back monster. Burkhead was supposed to get rest last week, and he's the most "power" back of any of the I-Backs on the roster.

    I don't really expect to see him get much of a rest. It sure would be nice to see Aaron Green out there though. How will we know how good our new I-Backs are if we don't give them a chance to shine during actual game time?

    Ryan: Not at all. Rex goes for 25-30 as Nebraska knows they must rely on Ol' Dependable No. 22 in a tough road contest. Rex gets no rest at all.

    Brandon: I’d love to say yes, but with the insistence that we’ve seen to get Rex the ball, I don’t see it happening. If Burkhead keeps racking up as many carries as he has been, that's a horrible decision.

    He’s not just tired, he’s hurt and the more he grinds out, the more damaged he’s going to be and the less effective he’s going to be running down the stretch.

    There’s absolutely no reason Abdullah, Green and Heard shouldn’t be seeing significant time. Hopefully, I’ll be proven wrong and Rex gets an opportunity to give himself a rest while coaching the young guns from the sidelines. I’m not holding my breath, though.

    Follow the panel on Twitter:

    Brandon: @eightlaces
    Brian: @btbowling
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    James: @jamesstevenson
    Ryan: @digitalryan

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    Tags: penn state, aaron green, ameer abdullah, braylon heard, tim beck, bo pelini, matt mcgloin, robert bolden, rex burkhead, ciante evans, lance thorell, lavonte david, will compton, daimion stafford, dan persa, kirk cousins, cam meredith, eric martin

  11. 2011 Nov 10

    Husker Heartbeat 11/10: T-Magic's Passing Fancy, Burkhead Under Close Watch and a Key Husker Returns


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Quarterback Taylor Martinez happily spreads the ball around in Tim Beck's attack strategy

    - Husker coaches are keeping a close eye on I-Back Rex Burkhead

    - Meanwhile, they tell the freshman backs to remain patient

    - NU's volleyball team will likely have Lauren Cook back on the court this weekend

    - Former Husker wrestler Josh Ihnen is setting his sights on an All-American honor

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    Tags: taylor martinez, rex burkhead, ameer abdullah, aaron green, braylon heard, lauren cook, josh ihnen

  12. 2011 Nov 07

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Evolution of The Nebraska Way


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

    Fans toss the term around like crumpled pieces of paper that eventually find their way to the bottom of a wastebasket. A constant reminder that how things are done at the University of Nebraska are carried out differently or are unique to our state and school.

    Included are: How to treat players, the media, those who to cheer for and how to adhere to it. This is “The Nebraska Way.”

    Somewhere along the line, one very important aspect was lost: How to win using The Nebraska Way. Saturday’s 28-25 loss to a Northwestern team that had far inferior talent than the Big Red (at least on paper) was a glaring example of the issues this team has. The more maddening, almost incomprehensible, other issue is the acceptance of performances like this.

    Some Nebraska fans say that a national championship wasn’t a realistic goal with this team, which is fair. However, with the loss to Northwestern, we made sure that two years are still relevant to Cornhusker football history:

    1999: The last time Nebraska fans bought conference championship shirts. In San Antonio, the Huskers took care of the Texas Longhorns and earned a Fiesta Bowl appearance.

    2002: The last time Husker fans paid for tickets to a BCS bowl game. Even though that team was arguably undeserving of appearing in the national championship game, Nebraska was in the national spotlight.

    The Nebraska Way includes excellence in player recruitment and development. Where has this gone? Ask yourself that as you see Ciante Evans whiff on defending a slant route resulting in an 81-yard touchdown scamper by the visiting team.

    Ask this again as Lance Thorell is torched time after time, and wonder why players such as Corey Cooper, Courtney Osborne, or Stanley Jean-Baptiste sit on the sidelines. Using your depth to maximize your attack on offense, this is The Nebraska Way.

    Where has this commitment gone? It seems a fair question to ponder as Ameer Abdullah, Jamal Turner, Braylon Heard and Aaron Green sit on the sideline as an obviously hurting Rex Burkhead gets bulldozed into a line that provided no daylight. Why is Tyler Moore not logging minutes as Yoshi Hardrick plays on a busted wheel?

    The Nebraska Way also includes taking every game seriously and to strategize accordingly. To be out-schemed, out-coached, and embarrassed on your home turf by a team that quite honestly had no business being on the same field with Nebraska is simply appalling.

    Don’t discredit Northwestern entirely, though. Pat Fitzgerald realized that Nebraska was to be had, kept his foot on the gas pedal and did what Mike Krzyzewski‘s Duke basketball teams are famous for: Running plays that work until the other team proves they can stop them.

    There were bright spots for Nebraska, of course. Taylor Martinez’s passing was a pleasant surprise, as was the play of defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler. However, there are no truly great performances in losses.

    That’s a shame, because the quarterback that several call a liability (author included) was an asset last Saturday, and his performance will be nothing but a random statistic as time rolls on.

    There should be rage over this loss. The defeat in Madison brought screaming, berating, and other rants to sports talk radio, message boards, and social media outlets. However, the tepid, melancholy response to this past weekend’s results is wide-spread.

    This, my friends and enemies, is the scariest thing of all. A sign that after years of expecting conference titles, bowl games played in January and double-digit win totals every season, the Nebraska Cornhusker fan base has come to a point where we’re alright with it.

    Much like we’re alright with a Blackshirt “tradition” that has gone from 11 black practice jerseys hanging in lockers two weeks before the season opener to 20 being handed out come Halloween.

    There was much talk about a Big Ten title in July and early August. That has changed to hoping the Capital One Bowl still is interested in a team that may get one more loss in the next three weeks. However, the feel good crowd will point out that if 2011 ends with nine wins, that result was good enough for Tom Osborne.

    Tom Osborne would have made this 2011 squad realize that there cannot be a single game taken lightly. Even against a team with their sights set on the Pinstripe or TicketCity Bowl. Coach Osborne would have also taken ownership of what happened in front of 85,000-plus first and foremost.

    Then there’s the matter of several students demanding better or even more seating from Osborne that couldn’t make a 2:30 PM kickoff or be bothered to stay around with ten minutes to go as their team needed them.

    How will the Take Back Game Day movement address that little matter? Can’t be beat? Won’t be beat? Do they know if their team was beat in the first place?

    Finally, Osborne would have realized the issues with this team over the last two years. The inability to stop dual-threat quarterbacks, an offensive line and play calling that can easily be liabilities, and the steadfast refusal to start playmakers who, while young, still give Nebraska the best chance of winning.

    There’s no reason to hold anything back in November. Teams that win constantly put the best 11 out on the field. Does anyone think the 1995 national championship season happens if Ahman Green is held back at all?

    Imagine that happening now and you see the frustration some have with Turner, Ameer, Braylon and SJB among others riding the pine.

    Welcome to the new Nebraska Way where losing games that should be afterthoughts are tolerable. Where handing out 20 Blackshirts eight games into a season, three or four losses, and a late December bowl game is considered a successful campaign. Where wins are a team effort, but losses are under-addressed, excuses are made and promptly accepted.

    For the foreseeable future, get used to your surroundings, Husker fans. Take in the atmosphere, and accept it for better or worse.

    Do you feel that The Nebraska Way has been watered down? Discuss it in the new and improved forums: Husker Locker Forums

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    Tags: the nebraska way, bcs, ciante evans, lance thorell, corey cooper, courtney osborne, blackshirts, capital one bowl, tom osborne, ahman green, stanley jeanbaptiste, ameer abdullah, jamal turner, braylon heard, aaron green, rex burkhead, tyler moore, yoshi hardrick, northwestern, pat fitzgerald, taylor martinez, baker steinkuhler

  13. 2011 Nov 05

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Top Five Things to Watch For Against Northwestern


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Erin Sorensen

    Coming off an emotional win, Nebraska looks to improve and continue their path to the Big Ten Championship Game. While Northwestern is not looking like much of an threat to Nebraska, there are still things fans need to be on the lookout for.

    1. Stopping Dan Persa/Kain Colter

    Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa will be a good test for Nebraska’s defense. While it has been argued that Persa is not what he used to be pre-injury, he will still be a challenge for a Cornhusker defense that struggles against a mobile quarterback. If Persa is back to 100 percent, he will test Nebraska in preparation for a much more mobile quarterback like Michigan’s Denard Robinson.

    What fans need to be on the lookout for against Persa is how the Nebraska front seven responds to Northwestern’s rushing offense. Right now, the Wildcats are ranked No. 3 in the Big Ten in total offense. This will put the defense in a tough spot to make big plays. If the defensive linemen can continue playing like Blackshirts, Northwestern should not be a big issue.

    2. A Standout Secondary

    The Nebraska secondary looked stellar against Michigan State last Saturday. It was clear that senior cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was back to his old self, while the rest of the secondary stepped up big. It was an all-around shining moment for a struggling defensive backfield.

    However, the secondary has shown too many weaknesses at this point to assume it will be easy to control Northwestern’s pass game. The Wildcats’ passing offense is ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten with an average of 244 yards per game. Persa also has a 75 percent completion rate, 1,251 yards through the air and only three interceptions coming into today.

    Fans will be looking for the Cornhuskers to play to the level they did last week. It will be interesting to see if the secondary can continue to earn their Blackshirts, or if Michigan State was a one-hit wonder thanks to Kirk Cousins’ immobility.

    3. Clock Management

    Nebraska has really stepped up in the last couple of games and taken control of the play clock. While having the ball more than their opponents, the Cornhuskers have been developing long drives that not only wear down the clock, but also typically result in points. This is a big step forward for a Nebraska offense that struggled to keep the ball for too long in 2010.

    Today, the Cornhuskers need to continue that pattern of smart clock control. Long drives will keep the ball away from Northwestern and Persa. If Nebraska can continue its good habits when in possession of the ball, the score shouldn’t even be close.

    4. Less Pressure on Rex Burkhead

    While Nebraska fans would love to see a huge game from the junior I-Back, this would be a good week to let the workhorse rest. Coming off of cramps during the fourth quarter of the Michigan State game, Burkhead needs to save his legs for the upcoming weeks. Games against Penn State and Michigan will require him to make a lot of big plays; a game against Northwestern does not.

    Keep an eye out for the younger running backs to get more playing time and experience this week. Between Aaron Green, Ameer Abdullah and Braylon Heard, Burkhead can take a break this week and let the freshman handle some of the load. Will he still be in most of the game?

    Most likely, but don’t expect every ball to be handed to him. Every game matters to Bo Pelini, but this one matters a little less when looking at the big picture as far as Burkhead’s concerned.

    5. An Active and Involved Crowd

    Memorial Stadium was rocking against Michigan State last Saturday. Will the same Cornhusker fans show up against Northwestern? While the more hyped games, such as Ohio State and Michigan State, have brought an electric atmosphere to Memorial Stadium, it will be important to note how the crowds react to Northwestern.

    If the game is a blowout, the crowd should still be involved. While Memorial Stadium is arguably classier than Camp Randall, there is something to be said about Wisconsin’s constant fan involvement. If Nebraska fans can replicate the excitement from Michigan State, it will be a big factor.

    The Big Ten is full of tradition. Nebraska has theirs, but one thing that has been talked about all season for improvement is fan involvement. It has been improving greatly over the last couple of games, but it will be interesting to see how the fans treat this game. It wouldn’t hurt to get a little experience for a team that is about to step into an unfriendly Happy Valley next week.

    Ultimately, Northwestern shouldn’t be much of a challenge for Nebraska. The game will provide some good growing opportunities, while also allowing some areas of the team to rest. It will be a fun game to watch, as the battle of the “NUs” takes place. Fans are guaranteed that.

    What are you watching for as the Huskers take on Northwestern? Tell us all about it in our new forums: Husker Locker Forums

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    Tags: northwestern, dan persa, kain colter, rex burkhead, wisconsin, camp randall, aaron green, ameer abdullah, braylon heard, bo pelini, alfonzo dennard

  14. 2011 Oct 22

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Minnesota Game Day Thoughts


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    The Husker Locker staff will be presented a number of questions addressing various aspects of each week's game all season long.

    This week:

    What does Nebraska need to work on versus Minnesota both offensively and defensively?

    Brian: Offensively, the Cornhuskers need to do what they have done so far. Let the line earn their ribeyes and stuffed baked potatoes on this one.

    Defensively, get better in base formations and find out if SJB is what the other side of the secondary needs.

    Erin: Offensively, Nebraska just needs to work on playing consistent football. If the offense can replicate the second half of the Ohio State game for an entire game, they will be a force to be reckoned with. For me, it's not about improving the talent or play ability, it's about improving the consistency.

    On the defense, it's going to be all about the secondary. I'm aware Jared Crick is out, but our line will be just fine. Guys like Terrence Moore and Chase Rome will fill the void nicely. The secondary is where the improvement needs to be focused.

    With Stanley Jean-Baptiste's new role at cornerback, it will be crucial for the secondary to rotate players around and find the right fit. Minnesota shouldn't give the defense too much of a struggle, so the secondary needs to take this as an opportunity to grow.

    Greg: Create turnovers on defense. This game gives the Huskers the opportunity to dominate, and they need to do more than just claim a moral victory on defense. From the offense, let's see a perfect game from the offensive line. If they are solid, the offense will have a good day.

    James: Offensively, the biggest opportunity for Nebraska is to continue working on its passing game. Getting Taylor more comfortable in the pocket, going through his progression, and hitting his dump off man will be critical for offensive success against Michigan State and Penn State's strong defenses.

    Defensively, containing and sacking Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray will be the main thing I'm looking for. Nebraska's defensive line hasn't always done the best job in contain against quarterbacks like Ohio State's Braxton Miller and Wisconsin's Russell Wilson.

    Furthermore, both the defensive line and linebackers have missed plenty of tackles either in the backfield, or after the quarterback has taken off. Limiting those mistakes will be important with perhaps the most dangerous dual-threat quarterback in the country still on the schedule in Michigan's Denard Robinson.

    Brandon: On offense, the Cornhuskers need to work on their rhythm and basic fundamentals. Starting with ball-handling and crisp blocking to effective short and long-range passes, Tim Beck needs to call a game that gets these guys clicking heading into next week.

    On defense, the obvious answer is finding a replacement for Crick whether it’s a lone individual or by committee. What’s more important is strengthening the defensive line as a whole. Nebraska’s going to be facing some punishing rushing attacks including Michigan State’s next week. They need to find a way to at least slow opponents' ground games down.

    Another obvious statement is the secondary, but not just getting Stanley Jean-Baptiste live game action. It would be advisable to work other safeties in as this is going to be the final game on the schedule where Carl and Bo can experiment.

    Will the number of Taylor Martinez's passes outnumber Rex Burkhead's carries?

    Brian: It should, but at the same time, the number of carries by Green/Abdullah/Heard should out number Rex's. Keep Burkhead healthy for the upcoming stretch.

    Erin: I hope not. I have my fingers crossed that it is a nice balance. The ball should only go in the air when it needs to.

    Greg: The only way that happens is if Rex has a massive first half and Bo opts to spell his legs in the second half. Otherwise, all running backs should have a field day.

    James: Yes. From the coach and player comments during the bye week, Rex was pretty nicked and bruised up from being Nebraska's workhorse. The Huskers will need him against stiffer competition, and will utilize the three freshman running backs to carry some of the load and gain experience.

    To further lock this in, Minnesota has one of the worst passing defenses in the conference and country. If there was ever a time to give Taylor Martinez additional reps in the passing game in live game action, this is it.

    Nebraska will need balance against the better defenses they have yet to play, and its borderline criminal how few touches Jamal Turner and Kyler Reed have been getting.

    Brandon: Honestly, I believe so. Minnesota’s a poor football team and if there’s any defense for Taylor to practice his passing against, it’s the Golden Gophers'. I’d look for every range of pass from short out routes to heaves over the Minnesota secondary to Kyler Reed.

    This is also a game where Rex can afford to get some rest. You’ll see him out there, but it’s hard to think that Abdullah, Green and Heard won’t see time, especially if Heard is fully recovered.

    What are three things that Nebraska needs to have seen as a result of this game?


    1.) 400-plus yards rushing. Let the big dogs on the line eat.

    2.) Memorial Stadium North. Revive the memories of Notre Dame Stadium in 2000.

    3.) A good ol' behind the woodshed stomping. Minnesota is not good at all. There’s no reason that past the first 10 minutes of action that this game should be close. These are the games before the Callahan era that we’d just look at them and say “My decent is better than your better."

    Nebraska needs to put their foot on the Gophers' throats, run them out of the building, and get that swagger back before Michigan State comes to down. Put something in Sparty’s head.


    1.) An offensive showing similar to the one against Ohio State. Can the Huskers keep improving? This week will show us.

    2.) A powerful defense. Our defense has been lacking its luster and spark. Someone like Lavonte David has to be tired of it. Can he get the team fired up for good? Let's hope so.

    3.) A big win. I don't think anyone wants to see this game be a close one.

    Greg: I'll let Erin tackle these in her "5 Things to Look for" column.


    1.) Nebraska needs to see Brion Carnes get plenty of playing time in the fourth quarter. He's still just an ankle injury away from being the starter, and he needs more playing experience. This also means Nebraska needs to put Minnesota away early.

    2.) The defense beginning to gel by holding Minnesota to their season average of points, or less. Minnesota benefits from the return of a healthy Gray, but has been averaging 18 points a game thus far. Nebraska is averaging giving up 21. I'd like to see the Huskers hold a team UNDER their season average. This Minnesota team scoring in the high 20s would concern me.

    3.) A set rotation on defense. It's been a merry-go-round in the defensive backfield. Daimion Stafford has played safety and corner, Eric Martin's been at linebacker and defensive end, and Stanley Jean-Baptiste is now playing cornerback.

    Nebraska needs some stability on the defensive roster to help this unit come together and trust each other. The loss of Crick probably hurts this though, as Nebraska will now be tinkering with a defensive line that hadn't blown anyone away even with Crick.


    1.) Confidence on Defense: There needs to be a sense that there is improvement no matter how small. Some momentum will do this unit a world of good. That said, if Minnesota covers the spread, that should be considered a red flag.

    2.) An Effective Passing Game…From Two Quarterbacks: There’s absolutely no reason that Brion Carnes should be on the sidelines in the fourth quarter of this game. There’s no logic in having Martinez under center if Nebraska leads by 35, especially when Carnes needs live action badly if No. 3 goes down.

    3.) Jean-Baptiste Solidify Himself: This could be filed under No. 1, but there needs to be a solid No. 2 opposite Dennard. Even if SJB can be the primary cornerback in a rotation, it would be a step up from the current status quo.

    What is your prediction for Nebraska's final record including any post-season play?

    Brian: If this team can get to 9-3, it’s a successful season. After all we have seen, unless something changes, running the table isn't realistic. There will be one, maybe two losses somewhere down the line.

    Erin: Nebraska will go 9-3, and will be in Indianapolis facing Wisconsin again. I'd even say Nebraska has a post-New Years bowl game to look forward to such as the Capital One Bowl on January 2nd.

    I would be willing to change my overall record depending on whether or not the defense can find its swagger. If they can ignite that spark, our team could be lethal. Until I see that, I'll stand by 9-3.

    Greg: I don't think this team, the way it stands now, is a one-loss team. If they were to face Wisconsin again in Indianapolis, I don't see where enough improvement has been made to beat the badgers. 11-2 with a bowl win.

    James: 10-3 - Without some improvement defensively, I think Nebraska splits the Michigan games, and drops one more to the trio of Northwestern/Iowa/Penn State. They miss the inaugural Big Ten Championship, but a nice trip to the Gator Bowl and a surprising win over an SEC team like Florida is just what the Huskers will need to finish out the season.


    At this point, Michigan State appears to be a toss-up, but the combination of quarterback Kirk Cousins and running back Edwin Baker along with a stout defense doesn’t bode well.

    Northwestern’s Dan Persa is hobbled and the Wildcats’ leading rusher is out. Michigan’s Denard Robinson will be difficult to be kept in check, but if he can be forced to pass, Nebraska has a solid chance. Penn State’s best weapon is Beaver Stadium and Iowa…well, is Iowa.

    I think the Cornhuskers drop two of those games. If I had to guess, I’d say Michigan State and Michigan simply due to Sparty’s defense and Robinson’s speed. That puts Nebraska at 9-3, but missing out on the Big Ten Championship Game which we may be seeing a preview of this evening with Wisconsin at Michigan State.

    Expect Nebraska to go to the Gator Bowl to face Georgia ending on a 9 or 10-win note.

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    Tags: stanley jean baptiste, alfonzo dennard, jared crick, terrence moore, taylor martinez, rex burkhead, aaron green, ameer abdullah, braylon heard, austin cassidy, jamal turner, kyler reed

  15. 2011 Oct 10

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Buckeye Win Doesn't Have Bo's Signature On It


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

    So many things went right and wrong last Saturday night in Lincoln. Enough that it makes you wonder how the tale of 2011 Nebraska football is going to finish both on and off the field.

    The first half was essentially the moment this team had their backs against the wall. Tim Beck was calling the game that fans had begged for all week. More Rex Burkhead, controlled passes by Taylor Martinez, all of that. The defense was supposed to suffocate and stop the Ohio State offense, a goal that was never really accomplished. The booing of the arm-punt by Martinez that Bo Pelini waived off, the dejected looks on each and every player and coach’s face, it told the story of the entire prior week-plus.

    The second half was one of the most memorable that anyone will likely see. From Lavonte David’s strip to “Rex and the O-Line's Greatest Hits" being belted out among the raindrops to a formation that saw Burkhead, Ameer Abdullah, and Aaron Green on the field at the same time. As an aside, as you look at Quincy Enunwa’s touchdown catch in the third quarter, watch for Aaron Green down the field. You could have fit the new addition to Memorial Stadium between him and the two Buckeyes on Enunwa.

    Adding to the good and yet baffling moments was one wide receiver-turned-cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste. If you had him in the pool as the best-looking cornerback opposite Dennard come the end of the game, you’re likely eating well for a while.

    A disclaimer: I’m not a guy to crush the good vibes, because a happy bunch is a good one to hang around. However, when you start flinging around statements like “Bo Pelini’s signature win”, I am going to have to ask you to put the fruit punch down, because it wasn’t.

    Come from behind wins are good, but they don’t necessarily make for signature wins. A game in which you beat a 3-2 football team lacking a number of key players thanks to NCAA suspension doesn’t equate to a coach’s defining moment. Was it a great win? Absolutely.

    Those of you that disagree, please consider the following: What do you consider Frank Solich’s signature victory? Most would likely say 2001 Oklahoma, of course. Not many people will come back with 2002 Texas A&M as an answer. The story of that game against the Aggies was the same as this past Saturday’s: Nebraska played a good, but not great team close while performing horribly in the first half and fantastically in the second.

    Ohio State needed this win badly, but the Buckeyes also realize that this season may be shot. This isn’t fair to them at all, but at least the Buckeye fan base realizes what may come from a downward spiral. With a loss on October 8, Nebraska would have had mutiny on its hands. The rain wouldn’t have been the only thing that dampened Cornhuskers’ spirits as they left the stadium.

    Braxton Miller’s fumble and the ensuing Taylor Martinez touchdown was the keg being planted on the Ohio State sideline, and Miller’s injury was the fuse being lit. Fate was rather cruel to the Ohio State true freshman as he did a great job against the Nebraska defense.

    If you think he was a handful, picture Northwestern’s Dan Persa and Michigan’s Denard Robinson. There’s no need to do that yet as there is a Minnesota Golden Gophers team that Nebraska should blow out of the water standing just over the horizon. “Should” and “will” are two different things, however.

    Should fans consider everything grand and think this year will be fine now? Not at all. There are six more games on the regular season schedule, a fight for the conference title, and there are still issues to be addressed. Taylor, while consistent and efficient last Saturday, must still improve. Bo’s back and forth with the media, whichever side you’re on or if you even care, is still an issue. The secondary still needs players to step up.

    Thank goodness for the bye week as everyone needs a break and despite the uncertainty, hair-pulling and hand-wringing, things aren’t bad as they could’ve been if the largest comeback in Nebraska history hadn’t happened.

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
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    Tags: rex burkhead, taylor martinez, lavonte david, bo pelini, aaron green, ameer abdullah, quincy enunwa, stanley jeanbaptiste, frank solich, braxton miller, dan persa, denard robinson

  16. 2011 Sep 21

    Husker Heartbeat 9/21: Green Goes Mental, Pelini Changes Recruiting and NU's Clash of the Titans


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - True freshman Aaron Green has shown his mental toughnessearly this season

    - Has Bo Pelini changed Nebraska football recruiting entirely?

    - Senior walk-on Kevin Thomsen has found his niche at tight end

    - Point guard Benny Parker commits to play with Doc Sadler's bunch

    - Clash of the Titans: Penn State will welcome Nebraska to Big Ten volleyball

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    Tags: bo pelini, aaron green, doc sadler, benny parker, kevin thomsen

  17. 2011 Sep 20

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Laramie, Wyoming - It's a Trap!


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

    This pesky offense. This upsetting defense.

    Somewhere in the midst of a 51-38 victory, the Nebraska football team showed the ability to not only weather a storm, but to put their foot down and play a quarter of football that can separate themselves from any team in the nation. However, they also showed that there is not only room for improvement on both sides of the ball, but also a need to cultivate the maturity to close out a football game.

    The offense was beyond outstading for most of the day. Taylor Martinez, Braylon Heard, Aaron Green, Kenny Bell, there were athletes making plays that needed to be made. Quincy Enunwa made some big blocks, and the much maligned offensive line had their best game of the season by far. Even without a Brandon Kinnie and Jamal Turner, playmakers were everywhere.

    The defense is Nebraska’s current liability. 274 yards of passing and a greater amount of yardage per play (6.2 vs. 6.1 for Nebraska) kept Washington in the game. Huskies head coach Steve Sarkasian had his team ready for a knockout punch early and often. The Nebraska defense's back seven were reeling for most of the game.

    There will be days where the offense bails out the defense (Stillwater last year, anyone?), but for two games in a row, there hasn’t been a knockout punch delivered by this team. After being on top 44-17 with a little more than 10 minutes left in the game, both sides of the ball went into a protective shell.

    Even Bo Pelini admitted that the calls on defense were a little lax in the post game presser. Pelini let the front four go after the quarterback, which is fine since Sarkasian and quarterback Keith Price were in four-wide sets. However, with the kind of day that Andrew Green and others in the secondary were having, that turned out to be a bad call.

    This secondary is young, but at the same time, they shouldn’t be having the same issues game after game. Giving the benefit of the doubt thanks to Alfonzo Dennard’s absence is like putting a small bandage on a huge wound. When Dennard returns, he can’t cover the whole field.

    Ciante Evans and Andrew Green have to be playmakers. Daimion Stafford, P.J. Smith, Austin Cassidy, all have room for improvement. It’s not time to call out secondary coach Corey Raymond, but when Fonzie returns, there will be no more excuses for this bad play.

    Nebraska did come away with a somewhat convincing win over a BCS school that should do some damage in the Pac-12 conference (it may be the Pac-16 by the time you read this). Wisconsin looked alright against a team they should have throttled, as did Michigan. Ohio State and Michigan State? Not so much.

    However, there is a game in Lariamie under a starry Wyoming night sky against a Cowboy squad that will fill the house and have fans ready. They've been ready for a long time, too. This is the ultimate trap game for Nebraska; between a revenge game and the Big Ten opener against a potential new arch-rival.

    It’s been said before that this team isn’t good enough to hit auto-pilot yet. The 2011 season has to truly be addressed on a week-by-week basis. Before Nebraska can win in Madison, or against the team from Columbus, there’s a tilt against a Mountain West team that won’t be scared of the Big Red at all.

    Get better, take care of Wyoming, and then worry about Russell Wilson.

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
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    Tags: taylor martinez, braylon heard, aaron green, kenny bell, brandon kinnie, jamal turner, quincy enunwa, bo pelini, andrew green, keith price, steve sarkisian, ciante evans, daimion stafford, pj smith, austin cassidy, corey raymond, alfonzo dennard

  18. 2011 Sep 19

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Aaron Gets the Green Light


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brett Baker

    It's hard to believe that it's been four years since I first saw Aaron Green create magic on the football field. If "magic" seems like hyperbole, I'd be hard pressed to come up with another word for 428 yards rushing and nine touchdowns in a single game. It was also just his second game as a varsity running back at San Antonio's Madison High School.

    In his third game as a Cornhusker, he's beginning to show Nebraska fans a glimpse of that amazing athletic ability. With Ameer Abdullah sidelined with a tweaked ankle after another monster kickoff return during the Huskers’ contest against Washington, Green got his biggest dose of Beck Ball on Saturday and he made the most of it. With 61 yards of offense and two touchdowns on only six touches, the freshman put his stamp on the game.

    As impressive as his two scores were, they weren't what impressed me the most. Early in the fourth quarter with Nebraska up 20 points and looking to put the game out of reach, Green got the bulk of his carries, but there was one that stood out. On first and ten at the Huskies’ 23-yard line, Green got the handoff and broke right for an eight-yard gain. The run was most impressive for what he didn't do.

    During his high school days, the only knock on Green was that he tended to look for the sidelines after a big gain. After this particular carry, Green was headed for the sidelines, but before getting there he turned up field, put his nose into the chest of the defender and gained another two yards.

    To most fans this would be just an average play. To me it showed a lot more; that the kid is tough, hardnosed and has a head for snap live game decisions. Keeping the clock running and picking up a couple of yards was the right call, and he made it.

    Given all of the teeth gnashing that's gone on with Taylor Martinez and his decision-making over the last 12 months, it's good to accentuate the positive when it happens. What makes this all the more satisfying is that Green didn't expect to get the touches that he did, but he was ready, willing and plenty more than able.

    The best part is that Nebraska fans haven't seen his best yet. With each tote of the rock he's that much closer to breaking off the kind of run that kept him in the same sentence with Texas' Malcolm Brown during the recruiting process. While Husker fans dream of Green running in acres of space, I'm going enjoy the thought of him doing the little things that make for a great running back.

    Follow Brett on Twitter: @BigRedinTejas
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    Tags: aaron green

  19. 2011 Sep 19

    Husker Heartbeat 9/19: Big Red Green, Eight is Great For NU OL and Pelini's Level Head


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - There's plenty of Green ahead

    - How many times does Nebraska have to win before getting due credit?

    - Eight different linemen saw time against Washington

    - The winner of the Legends' division needn't be legendary

    - Pelini keeps a level head when evaluating his squad's performances

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: aaron green, bo pelini

  20. 2011 Sep 18

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Knee-Jerk Reactions – Washington


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - One of two things is a liability: Andrew Green or Corey Raymond’s coaching. Alfonzo Dennard will determine which.

    - On the other hand, it turns out Aaron Green is a baller. Braylon Heard, come on down!

    - That Rex guy’s pretty good, too.

    - Nebraska has approximately a 29 percent third down conversion rate over the past two games. However, they’ve scored 40-plus points in the first three contests of a season for the first time since 1995. Pass the Aleve.

    -It’s safe to say that Ameer Abdullah could score on any given return. When’s the last time that could be said about a Cornhusker? Maybe DeJuan Groce…maybe.

    - In health news, Taylor Martinez finally decides to stop shaving years off of his life by sliding.

    - Mathew May’s heads up play deserves an extra tip of the cap. That sort of play will win you games that you probably should lose.

    - Chris Polk ran for a ton of yardage and it came as no surprise. Not necessarily because the interior defensive line got worked over, but he’s a damn good back. The line issue may want to be resolved before the Huskers hit Madison in black, though.

    - Brett Maher shanks a punt, but redeems himself by making one of the better tackles of the afternoon.

    - Stafford and David are tackling machines, but again none were for a loss.

    - Seven times the Cornhuskers entered the red zone and seven times they scored. That’s a bingo.

    - Is this the first college football game in recent memory where a ref needs to be worried about getting fined by the FCC over an issue with the game clock?

    -The bottom line's three wins and no losses. It’d be a lie to say after being up 44-17 that the final score of the rubber match against Washington wasn’t disappointing, though.

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    Tags: alfonzo dennard, corey raymond, andrew green, aaron green, rex burkhead, ameer abdullah, dejuan groce, taylor martinez, mathew may, brett maher, chris polk, daimion stafford, lavonte david

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